There are times when this city is like any other, and times when it is quite unlike anywhere else. Recently I was discussing local taxi service with someone and realized that taxi service here is a concern, and in ways I've never encountered anywhere else.
To be clear I have taken taxis in some of Canada's largest cities (Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal to name a few), and in some other large cities around the world (London, for instance). This is perhaps the only city where I have used a taxi that had a sign indicating they take credit cards, and then have the driver refuse to accept a credit card as payment. There's nothing quite like reaching your destination (like the airport) and arguing with the driver about taking your credit card. That always sets such a positive tone to the beginning of a trip, doesn't it? From what I have learned this is a pretty common occurrence here, and a troubling one. If they aren't going to accept credit cards that should be made clear at the beginning of the ride - and there shouldn't be any signs leading you to believe that credit cards are fine.
I'm not sure if anyone else has noticed but the driving abilities of some of the taxi operators don't exactly inspire confidence, either. A couple of years ago I had one almost run into the side of my vehicle as they were exiting a driveway, and it was simply because the driver didn't bother to look to his left before pulling out into traffic. I'm not sure what kind of testing these drivers undergo, but I'm willing to state that I'm not sure it's adequate to determine their true abilities.
Someone told me they were in a taxi recently in which the driver's ID was turned backwards so that you couldn't see if the ID was actually for the person in the driver's seat. That got me started thinking about how we know that the person driving is actually the person licensed to do so, and how often this sort of thing is checked. I must admit that I almost neurotically check the ID to see if my driver is the licensed operator as it's really the only way of knowing if they are qualified to drive the vehicle (and even then I find myself wary).
I have also noticed that many of the taxis themselves seem to be in poor condition, and some seem downright dangerous. I don't expect a taxi to be a luxury ride but functioning seatbelts, windows, and brakes seem a reasonable request. It's also nice to have a suspension that doesn't make you feel like a shaken martini when you finally arrive at your destination. I can't imagine those suspensions are helpful when they are ferrying drunks home after the local bars close, either.
I don't mean to imply taxi service in other cities is flawless. In most cities, though, the fear is what passengers will do to the drivers, and hence the installation of glass shields and protective devices for the driver. Here I suspect many people climbing into a local taxi fear a bit for their own safety. That just shouldn't be the case, and it hasn't been the case in any other city I've visited or lived in. Just another of those Fort Mac peculiarities, but one I think we can, and should, address. Taxi company owners, take note - we truly expect better.